It's Getting Harder For Companies to Run From Their Nazi Pasts

You know that Volkswagen you're driving? Hitler founded the company. You know that Hugo Boss suit you're wearing? His ads once touted, "Supplier for Nazi uniforms since 1924." Nazi stuff! Right under our noses! A new piece of legislation — from Maryland, of all places — would make sweeping that information under the carpet a crime.

Keolis, a Paris-based rail company, is currently bidding for a Maryland commuter rail contract. Keolis is owned by Societe National de Chemins de Fer, whose trains delivered 76,000 Jews to their deaths in World War II. SNCF will now have to acknowledge that fact if they plan on winning the contract. That's because Governor Martin O'Malley has signed into law the first bill in U.S. history that would require a company to disclose their Nazi-collaborating past.

The bill stipulates that "companies that were involved in the deportation of Holocaust victims that seek contracts with Maryland's commuter rail system" would have to make pertinent records available online. That includes "internal memoranda, receipts, invoices, audits and correspondence." Also, they would have to "provide an account of property confiscated from Holocaust victims" and proof of "restitution paid."

The legislation was spearheaded by Leo Brethelz (pictured, right, with O'Malley), a 90-year-old Holocaust survivor who escaped from one of the SNCF trains on his way to Auschwitz.

"It's a beginning," said Mr Bretholz. "The other states will probably take note and perhaps do the same thing. We need contrition. We need statements. We need the truth."

[BBC, photo via AP]